NEXUS Biosystems acquires sister company Aurora Biotechnologies

With private equity firm Telegraph Hill Partners (THP) acting as the honest broker, NEXUS Biosystems Inc. announced in December its acquisition of Aurora Biotechnologies.

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POWAY, Calif. – With private equity firm Telegraph HillPartners (THP) acting as the honest broker, NEXUS Biosystems Inc. announced inDecember its acquisition of Aurora Biotechnologies.

Telegraph Hill is the majority investor in NEXUS and Aurorais another THP-portfolio company. NEXUS president and CEO John Lillig notesthat there are true synergies in the new combination.

"We're a leading innovator and worldwide provider of automatedsample management systems and Aurora—just 30 miles away in Carlsbad, Calif.—isa leading developer of proprietary, high-performance microplates for use insample storage systems such as ours. Combining the technologies and personnelof Aurora with Nexus will enable us to provide a wider spectrum of products forour current and future customers around the world."

NEXUS represents a highly successful variant of the biotechstartup. Launched only four years ago, the company has become one of theleaders in its product category and is "making money on the bottom line,"Lillig states.

"With the recent launch of our automated -80°C BioStore lineof sample management systems and our new XPeel microplate de-sealer, 2009 hasbeen a strong growth year for Nexus," he says. "As we head into 2010 with theacquisition of Aurora Biotechnologies, we are very excited about theopportunity to expand our product reach beyond automated sample management intohigh-throughput biochemical, cell-based and genomic screening applications."  

Aurora's staff will make the 30-mile hike to work at NEXUSheadquarters in Poway, with Aurora president and chief technical officer Dr.Peter Coassin becoming vice president of science. Dr. Rhett Affleck, whocurrently holds that position at NEXUS, will become vice president oftechnology.

The automated storage systems developed and marketed byNEXUS are Brobdingnagian in both size and capability. Many cost $1 million ormore and can process 100,000 samples per day. The units can handle an array ofstorage container types­—tubes, vials, racks and plates—with multiple pickerson the front of the system.

At sanofi-aventis, Lillig notes, the NEXUS system is atwo-story, 34-foot-tall arrangement that provides access to chemists working onthe first level and biologists upstairs. NEXUS also stores millions of pharmacompounds and biological materials such as blood and DNA at its facility.Customers ask for samples and run tests for biomarker, personalized medicineand other studies.

Coassin notes that "Aurora's understanding of key processesin assay technologies and consumables makes us a great fit with the Nexussample management and sample processing technologies. The combination of thetwo companies is timely as the research market is looking for cost-saving, highquality, efficiency-enhancing solutions." Aurora serves the discovery researchmarkets with unique, cyclo-olefin, optically pure consumable microplateproducts that enable high-throughput analysis of chemical compounds andcellular assays. Absolutely flat plastic sheets are molded into the frame ofthe plates to produce a broad range of high performance microplate designs,including 96-, 384-, 1,536- and 3,456-well plates.
NEXUS has already added twopeople to the Aurora group, John Lillig adds, and the Aurora product line willalso benefit from access to NEXUS' sales network via its European subsidiaryNEXUS Biosystems GmbH in Munich, Germany, and its distribution officesthroughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

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